Updated: Aug 20, 2021
DACA, also known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an immigration policy established by President Barack Obama in 2012.
This policy protects around 800,000 young people — known as “DREAMers” — who entered the United States unlawfully as children from deportation.
Although the program does not grant them official legal status or a pathway to citizenship, it allows them to apply for a driver’s license, have a social security number, and work in their chosen industry with a work permit.
According to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Center for American Progress (CAP), and Migration Policy Institute (MIP), there are approximately 3.6 million Dreamers residing in the United States, many of which did not apply for DACA.
Roughly, only 800,000 are currently protected under the program. About 61,000 of them have aged after it stopped accepting new applicants.
80% of these Dreamers are from Mexico
The states with the largest DACA populations are California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois.
To be a DACA recipient, here are the following requirements you must meet:
You have entered the United States unlawfully prior to your 16th birthday;
You have lived continuously in the United States since June 15, 2007;
You were under age 31 on June 15, 2012;
You were present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012;
You do not currently have legal immigration status on June 15, 2012;
You never had a lawful immigration status on or before June 15, 2012, or
Any lawful immigration status or parole that you obtained prior to June 15, 2012, had expired as of June 15, 2012;
You are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a GED certificate, or that you have been honorably discharged from the military;
You are not convicted for felony, significant misdemeanor(s), and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
When USCIS was accepting new applicants for DACA, applicants were required to be at least 15 years of age and were required to pay an unwaivable application fee.
If you are applying for DACA for the first time, you will need:
Form I-821D (Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)
Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization Document)
Other supporting documents such as:
Proof of Identity
Proof you came to U.S. before your 16th birthday
Proof of Immigration Status
Proof of presence in U.S. on June 15, 2012
Proof you continuously resided in U.S. since June 15, 2007
Proof of your student status at the time of requesting DACA
Proof you are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the U.S.
To file, you must do the following:
Collect documents as evidence you meet the guidelines.
Complete USCIS Forms I-821D, I-765, and I-765WS
Mail USCIS Forms and Fees
Visit your local USCIS Application Support Center for a scheduled biometrics services appointment
Check the status of your request online
If you are renewing your current DACA, you need to have the following documents for:
The date that your current period of DACA expires
You can find this at your Form I-797, Notice of Action, and/or Employment Authorization Document
It's important to know this date since you have to submit your renewal request about 4 to 5 months or 120 to 150 days before your current period of DACA expires
Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
Form I-765WS Worksheet
Continuously residing in the U.S. since submitting their most recently approved DACA request;
Any proof that you have not departed the United States on or after Aug. 15, 2012, without advance parole;
Any proof that they have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor(s), and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
Complete and mail these requirements to USCIS and pay an unwaivable application fee of $495.
You are still eligible for DACA renewal even if:
You are now over 31. You cannot age out of the program.
You have graduated or are studying at a different school or program.
You previously had DACA but let it lapse (expire) without renewing.
Before, DACA was renewable every two years. But following the July 2020 Wolf memorandum, DACA recipients must now renew every year to maintain its protections.
However, although the Department of Homeland Security may continue to accept new applications, they are temporarily prohibited from approving them.
Furthermore, on July 16, 2021, the U.S. The District Court for the Southern District of Texas held that the DACA policy as “illegal.”
For now, President Biden promised to strengthen the DACA program during his administration.
Michael Kagan, director of the immigration clinic at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said that “Unfortunately, Dreamers may have to live with some level of doubt and anxiety for the foreseeable future.”
If you have questions, call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283.